Genetics & Genomics

Ancestors in Our Genome

by Eugenie E. Harris

New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 248 pages.

According to reviewer Daniel Fairbanks, Ancestors in Our Genome attempts “the daunting task of explaining to a lay audience how the massive amount of genomic information currently available to geneticists has informed our understanding of human evolutionary history.” While the book is difficult, he predicts, “Readers will come away from it with a powerful and up-to-date understanding of how the science of genomics is revolutionizing our understanding of human evolution and of evolution in general.”

DNA USA: A Genetic Biography of America

by Bryan Sykes

New York: W. W. Norton, 2012. 320 pages.

In DNA USA, reviewer Anne D. Holden writes, “Sykes ventures across the Atlantic to piece together the complex genetic history of America.”

Not a Chimp: The Hunt to Find the Genes that Make Us Human

by Jeremy Taylor
New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 256 pages.

Reviewer Jonathan Marks summarizes, “Jeremy Taylor argues that (1) we are genomically more different than the 98–99% datum has indicated; (2) we are cognitively and behaviorally more different than the inhabitants of the post-Goodall world have been led to believe; and (3) the elision of human and chimpanzee, as animal-rights advocates have promoted, is unwarranted.

Deep Ancestry: Inside the Genographic Project

by Spencer Wells
Des Moines, IA: National Geographic Society, 2007. 247 pages.

In Deep Ancestry, Spencer Wells, the director of the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project, clearly explains the science behind the project — which is collecting DNA from a wide sample of the world's population in order to understand the evolution of the human genome — and also engagingly relates the stories of five of its volunteers.

The Cartoon Guide to Genetics

by Larry Gonick and Mark Wheelis
New York: Collins, 1991. 224 pages.

The author/illustrator of The Cartoon Guide to the Universe teams up with the University of California at Davis microbiologist to explain the basics of genetics in words and pictures. First published in 1983, and updated in 1991, the longevity of The Cartoon Guide to Genetics is testimony to its usefulness. The reviewer for TIGR's Genome News Network writes, "The amount of detail is impressive. ...

The Impact of the Gene

by Colin Tudge
New York: Hill and Wang, 2002. 384 pages.

From the publisher: "In the mid-nineteenth century, a Moravian friar made a discovery that was to shape not only the future of science but also that of the human race. With his deceptively simple experiments on peas in a monastery garden in Brno, Gregor Mendel was the first to establish the basic laws of heredity, laws from which the principles of modern genetics can be drawn.

Fly: The Unsung Hero of the Twentieth Century

by Martin Brookes
New York: Ecco, 2002. 224 pages.

From Thomas Hunt Morgan to the present day, the unassuming fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has been at the center of genetic research. Brookes's lively book follows the fruit fly through the history of 20th-century biology, where it inspired the work of at least three Nobel laureates (Morgan, Muller, and Lewis), all the way to the Drosophila Genome Project. The reviewer for writes, "Brookes's enthusiasm is catching, and Fly will send readers running to their kitchens to catch a glimpse of these scientific superstars."

Genetics and the Origin of Species

by Theodosius Dobzhansky
New York: Columbia University Press, 1982. 364 pages.

Originally published in 1937 (before the discovery of the structure of DNA) and reissued by Columbia University Press in 1982 with a new introduction by Stephen Jay Gould, Dobzhansky's book advanced a comprehensive account of the evolutionary process in terms of genetics. By citing experimental evidence to support the theoretical arguments of Sewall Wright, J. B. S. Haldane, and R. A. Fisher, Genetics and the Origin of Species was one of the seminal works of the modern synthesis, prompting a surge of evolutionary studies throughout biology. A classic of enduring value.

Lateral DNA Transfer

by Frederic Bushman
Woodbury, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2002. 448 pages.

Although lateral gene transfer was observed in bacteria almost fifty years ago, only recently are biologists beginning to appreciate its extent and significance.

Darwin in the Genome

by Lynn Helena Caporale
New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. 256 pages.

The title of the prologue to Darwin in the Genome encapsulates the thesis of the book nicely: "Chance favors the prepared genome." The publisher writes, "Written by a molecular biologist at the forefront of genomics research, Darwin in the Genome is an exciting account of one of the hottest new theories in biology today: evolution by natural selection inevitably leads to strategic mutations.